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Showing posts from June 19, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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The Toxic State of America

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["The attack on Republican members of Congress in the United States this week is a product of America's increasingly toxic political climate. Democracy is at stake in a country where two, deeply divided sides are no longer capable of reasonable debate." Yes, of course, this is true. I worry that this response will turn into a way of ignoring the most obvious thing: what about gun control?? See also this piece, which puts exactly the same spin on things: Lawmakers struggle to maintain unity after shooting. *RON*]
Christoph Scheuermann, Der Spiegel, 16 June 2017

Once the attacker was dead and the injured cared for, once quiet had returned to Congress and the investigation had begun, a hint of harmony briefly descended over Washington. Democrats said prayers for Republicans, adversaries found warm words for each other and even Donald Trump acted like a statesman. America is strongest, he said, "when we are unified and when we work …

2017 Surface Pro least repairable ever; Surface Laptop is made of glue

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[On the crapification of consumer goods by the corporatocracy in the disposable society. Compact design continues to be at odds with maintenance and repairability. *RON*]

Peter Bright, Ars Technica, 16 June 2017
While it's not a big surprise given the size and general trends when building these things, Microsoft's new Surface Laptop does not appear to be even remotely repairable, and the new Surface Pro isn't much better, according to iFixit.

iFixit's pictures, as ever, give a great look at the insides of the two machines. The Laptop has no external screws at all; to get into the system, iFixit had to peel off the glued-down fabric keyboard surround, an operation that obviously can't be undone, producing a machine that offers essentially no serviceability whatsoever. With the keyboard surround removed, the system reveals its internals, with components taped, soldered, or otherwise permanently affixed in place. Given how destr…

The Nazis Used It, We Use It

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[Alex de Waal on the return of famine as a weapon of war. Depressing as hell but important to know about. *RON*]
Alex de Waal, London Review of Books, Vol. 39 No. 12 · 15 June 2017


In its primary use, the verb ‘to starve’ is transitive: it’s something people do to one another, like torture or murder. Mass starvation as a consequence of the weather has very nearly disappeared: today’s famines are all caused by political decisions, yet journalists still use the phrase ‘man-made famine’ as if such events were unusual.

Over the last half-century, famines have become rarer and less lethal. Last year I came close to thinking that they might have come to an end. But this year, it’s possible that four or five famines will occur simultaneously. ‘We stand at a critical point in history,’ the head of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the former Tory MP Stephen O’Brien, told the Security Council in March, in one of his last stateme…

Talk of a skills gap in the labor market is 'an incredible cop out'

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[A memorable quote on the crapification of labour: "If you hear an employer complain they can't find skilled workers, always ask, at what wage?" *RON*]

Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, Business Insider, 18 June 2017

Heidi Shierholz, former chief economist at the Labor Department, has a great saying when it comes to an alleged "skills gap" in the job market: "If you hear an employer complain they can’t find skilled workers, always ask, at what wage?"

The Business CEO Roundtable has published a report discussing what it says is a shortage of skilled workers in America, and hosted a conference in Washington featuring high profile CEOs, a top aide to Donald Trump and two US senators.

"There are a lot of jobs open," said Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, during a panel discussion sponsored by the pro-industry lobby. But "there are a lot of people who are not properly trained," he maintained.

But is there really …

Grenfell Tower is Theresa May’s Katrina moment – her political career cannot survive it

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[Natural and man-made disasters have frequently been the last nail in the coffin of governments that were already tottering. See also: The consensus is that there must be an orderly transition – but Theresa May is finished; and Big business leaders press Theresa May to rethink hard Brexit; and May Is Living Brexit Nightmare She Warned Of. *RON*]
Patrick Cockburn, Independent, 17 June 2017


Grenfell Tower is Theresa May’s Katrina moment – her political career cannot survive it

It is a dangerous moment for any government when the public suspects that it is incapable of preventing a great disaster like the Grenfell Tower fire. Angry people see the state as failing in its basic duty to keep them safe. Politicians in power, in such circumstances, are embarrassingly keen to show that there is a firm hand on the tiller, calmly coping with a crisis for which they are not to blame. Above all else, they need to dissuade people from imagining that a calamity i…